A detailed indictment used to charge leading journalist Moussa Kaka yesterday with “complicity in a conspiracy against state authority” was “inconsistent and absurd,” Reporters Without Borders said. The manager of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya and correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka was arrested on 20 September.
“The details of the case against him are inconsistent and in some cases mendacious, while overall, what he is alleged to have done are normal activities for a brave and rigorous journalist such as Kaka,” the press freedom organisation said.
“It seems that above all they are trying to punish a journalist who dared to shine light on developments which the government wanted to pass off as criminal activity of little importance, but which in reality point to a serious political crisis,” Reporters Without Borders added.
After being incarcerated in Niamey prison without being told why, as required by the law, Kaka was finally brought yesterday before the state prosecutor, who told him he was charged with “complicity in a conspiracy against state authority” for being in frequent contact with the Tuareg Rebels of the Niger People’s Movement for Justice (MNJ) and with one of its leaders in particular, Agali Alambo. The charge is based on an indictment of several pages in length, much of consisting of details of his tapped phone conversations.
Ever since the MNJ emerged in the north of Niger in February, Kaka has reported on its demands and its armed clashes with government forces. Regarded as one of the country’s best journalists, he obtained exclusive interviews with MNJ leaders and photos of events in the field.
In an unprecedented televised news conference the day after Kaka’s arrest, Niamey prosecutor Adama Harouna accused him of “connivance” without offering any credible evidence. The accusation of “violating state security” originally mentioned by Harouna was not included in the formal indictment.
Kaka’s lawyer, Moussa Coulibaly, said Kaka regarded all the accusations as a fabrication and rejected them outright.
Niger’s privately-owned press, RFI, Amnesty International and most leading press freedom and human rights organisations have condemned Kaka’s arrest and called for his release.